Selling Guide

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B4-1.4-08, Environmental Hazards Appraisal Requirements (04/15/2014)

Introduction

This topic contains information on special appraisal considerations for properties affected by environmental hazards, including:


Overview

Fannie Mae purchases or securitizes mortgage loans secured by properties affected by environmental hazards if the effect of the hazard is measurable through an analysis of comparable market data as of the effective date of the appraisal, and the appraiser reflects in the appraisal report any adverse effect that the hazard has on the value and marketability of the subject property or indicates that the comparable market data reveals no buyer resistance to the hazard.

In rare situations, a particular environmental hazard may have a significant effect on the value of the subject property, although the actual effect is not measurable because the hazard is so serious or so recently discovered that an appraiser cannot arrive at a reliable opinion of market value because there is no comparable market data available, such as sales, contract sales, or active listings that are available to reflect the effect of the hazard. In such cases, the mortgage will not be eligible for delivery to Fannie Mae.


Appraisal Requirements

When the appraiser has knowledge of any hazardous condition, whether it exists in or on the subject property or on any site within the vicinity of the property, including but not limited to, the presence of hazardous wastes, toxic substances, asbestos-containing materials, urea-formaldehyde insulation, or radon gas, the appraiser must

  • note the hazardous condition in the appraisal report;

  • comment on any influence the hazard has on the property’s value and marketability, if it is measurable through an analysis of comparable market data as of the effective date of the appraisal, or indicate that the comparable market data reveals no buyer resistance to the hazard; and

  • make appropriate adjustments in the overall analysis of the property’s value.

Fannie Mae expects the appraiser to consider and use comparable market data from the same affected area because the sales prices of settled sales, the contract sales prices of pending sales, and the current asking prices for active listings will reflect any negative effect on value and marketability of the subject property.

Note: Fannie Mae does not consider the appraiser to be an expert in the field of environmental hazards. The typical residential real estate appraiser is neither expected nor required to be an expert in this specialized field. The appraiser, however, has a responsibility to note in the appraisal report any adverse conditions that were observed during the inspection of the subject property or information that he or she became aware of through the normal research involved in performing an appraisal.


Lender Requirements

Fannie Mae requires the lender to disclose any information regarding environmental hazards to the appraiser and note the individual mortgage file accordingly if the real estate broker, the property seller, the property purchaser, or any other party to the mortgage transaction informs the lender that an environmental hazard exists in or on the property, or in the vicinity of the property. Fannie Mae also requires the lender to disclose such information to the borrower, and to comply with any state or local environmental laws regarding disclosure.

The lender must make the final decision about the need for inspections and the adequacy of the property as security for the mortgage. For example, because Fannie Mae requires the appraiser to comment on the effect of a hazard on the value and marketability of the subject property, the appraiser would have to note when there is market resistance to an area because of environmental hazards or any other conditions that affect well, septic, or public water facilities. When the lender has reason to believe that private well water that is on or available to a property might be contaminated as a result of the proximity of the well to hazardous waste sites, the lender is exercising sound judgment if it obtains a “well certification” to determine whether the water meets community standards.

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